In NBC’s follow up to For Love or Money, “winner” Erin Brodie lets the money ride on a double or nothing wager: 15 handsome men who came looking for love are tempted with a one million dollar prize. If the man she picks chooses Erin over the money, Erin walks away with two million dollars.
In the opening scenes, five Hummers deliver the contestants to the same Bel Air mansion just vacated by Paige and the other FLOMmites. The men are instructed to pick a room and get to know the competition.
The obligatory reality TV drinks appear as the men enjoy the game room replete with pool table, cards and game tables.
Just as we begin to get to know the contestants in brief snippets of confessionals. Just as I begin to notice what a great smile the FORT’s foster child Sean Messenger has after all - host Jordan Murphy intrudes on my daydreams.
Not Jordan. Not again. Murphy, who delivers his lines like a poet with faulty meter, invites the men to the Main Room to discuss business. After describing Erin as incredible, intelligent and beautiful, he gets to the meat of his script:
One of you
Will be that guy
That wins her heart.
We want to sweeten the pot.
There’s a secret
You don’t know.
The man who captures her heart
The man she chooses over all others
A million dollars.
With a flourish, the poet laureate of reality TV pulls a stack of checks from a box on the mantelpiece. As he distributes the checks I notice several of the guys checking the watermarks and routing numbers to verify their authenticity.
The Pulp Fiction glowing box makes a return appearance as Jordan carefully lays the checks in place while admonishing the men they can never, never tell Erin about the money.
The next day, money and deception are the topic of the day as the men work out and/or frolic by the pool.
Wade delivers a brilliant Freudian slip. “Some of the men are going to be a little deviant." (or was that a Little Deviant, Wade? And by the way, have you ever been a mercenary in a third world country?)
Jordan returns and with the rhythm and grace of the sharecropper’s son played by Steve Martin in The Jerk, begins his eloquent dance of words:
The woman will arrive
This will be your first time
to look in her eyes.
It could be worth
one million dollars.
After another gratuitous flashback to a similar scene in FLOM, fifteen men assemble on the stairs of the mansion to await Erin’s million-dollar gaze.
Erin, standing on a rug of a more masculine design, waits next to a tray of 15 rings which she will give to each prospective suitor.
But wait, what happened to the old rug? Would it clash with the men’s tuxedos? Would it have matched Erin’s dress? Her eyes? Or was Rob simply not potty-trained? The world may never know.
15 rings. As the men are eliminated, Erin will ask for their return.
Logistic questions swirl. Rings. Are these properly sized? Are they one-size fits all? (Heck, that never works at Wal-Mart, why now?) Are the producers distributing Dr. Scholl’s corn pads? Or am I the only one that remembers putting them under my beloved’s class ring? Again, I digress.
Let’s meet the guys:
Dustin: 25, New Jersey – Law Student
Dustin didn’t provide any answers to the pre-show questionnaire, so he gets a grudging pass from me for the first episode. Erin gives him the first ring and tells him it signifies friendship, and the potential for possibly more.
Deric: 28, Boulder, Colorado – Video Producer
In pre-show interviews, Deric seems to be impressed by beauty, athleticism and a ‘hot British accent’ and thinks a poor soul mate is “worth infinitely more than any amount of cash. Sharing something deep with someone makes them a trophy... at least to me.”
Erin says he is confident and has great charisma. This comment sounds like the dating equivalent of the kiss of death. We’ll see.
Dan: 25, Missouri – Attorney
Dan, already nicknamed “Weezer” by FORTies before the premiere, also didn’t give us any material to work with in his pre-show interviews. Yet he redeems himself by bringing Erin a small gift.
He presents a small wooden elephant, telling her it is a symbol of good luck. Dan goes on to say that he admires Erin’s courage for appearing on a show like this.
Way to go, Dan. Chicks love both gifts and compliments on courage instead of beauty. Erin concurs, saying Dan has definitely scored points.
Munch: 31, Atlanta, GA - Bartender
Next we meet Munch. Okay, name choice aside, why on earth are you still bartending at 31? And what is with guidance counselors these days?
Pre-show, Munch would combine the following three people for his ideal mate: Janis Joplin, the original cast of Charlie’s Angels and Daisy Duke (Dukes of Hazard) ‘cause “she is sexy, knows how to drive … and she will break you out of jail.” Munch. Among other things, you have math issues.
Erin isn’t sure she could see herself dating someone named Munch.
Erin, you’re from the west coast, so you might not really understand. But I’m from Tennessee. (Look at my av, for cryin’ out loud.) I’m gonna say this real slow in case Munch is reading. R-e-d-n-e-c-k.
Eric: 27, Minesoooota – Media Planner
At last we get to see sweet Eric, who is no stranger to reality TV. As a former contestant on Meet My Folks and an honorary FORTie, I’m hoping Eric has a leg up on his competition.
Eric gave intelligent answers to NBC’s inane pre-show questions, so I’ll give him a pass this week. When Eric tells Erin that she has been presented to the men as ‘the second coming of Aphrodite’ I silently bless him for giving me a recap title.
When Erin says Eric is one of the ones she felt like she had an attraction to, I cheer quietly.
Sean: 32, Massachusetts – Manager, online journal
It’s almost too much. Sean, I feel like I know ya. Too well. Please, oh please, don’t say anything stupid.
Sean tells Erin he thinks this is the ‘strangest and most romantic thing.’
Sean. Strange is hanging out at reality television websites. Strange is counting a blog as an occupation. Strange is having the longest and most eloquent response to three simple questions dreamed up by an NBC producer.
Romance? Well, Erin’s first impression is that he comes across as ‘romantic’ so I’ll give him credit for having the power of suggestion working for him.
Chad F.: 28, Texas – VP Sales
Chad shows promise when he says he would combine Jennifer Garner (Alias), and Sheryl Crow as part of his ideal mate trinity – but then spoils it by mentioning the Olsen twins. Math issues. Legal issues. Chad - do not pass Go.
He tells Erin she looks stunning. At least he didn’t mention the rug.
Paul: 29, Georgia – Account Executive
Paul shows precognition skills when he mentions Sandra Bullock as one of his three-in-one ideal women. Shows lack of foresight when he wishes for a sailboat equipped with “[an] all female Swedish crew … a drunk clown, a midget, and a live monkey for entertainment during the long journey across the seas....”
Paul – did your dad take you to the circus when you were young? And what does a live monkey have to do with a long sea journey? And how is this better than a dead monkey?
Erin says Paul is handsome and well put together. I skip over a myriad of obvious jokes and go on to:
Wade: 29, Texas – Sales
I can tell that Wade works on straight commission when he breaks his ideal mate into percentages: Jennifer Garner (75%), Cameron Diaz (22%) Aunt Bee (3 %).
Aunt Bea? Whew. They are making this recap thing almost too easy.
With answers like that, I expect great things when Wade opens his mouth to speak:
“How’s the weather?”
With his supernatural powers of observation, Wade must have noticed Erin was chilled.
Erin noted that Wade has particularly nice hands and a great charisma.
Vic(tor): 25, California – Artist Manager
While Erin terms Vic ‘down to earth’ his pre-show comments border on the evasive, bizarre and subversive. To sum it up, Vic is looking for an Argentinean woman in a wet t-shirt from the town of San Felipe in Baja, California Mexico who talks trash and runs with style.
Chad V.: 29, New York – VP Sales
Chad is looking for intelligence, confidence and physical fitness in his ideal mate. Erin thinks he’s 'hot' and a quality guy.
Well. That’s all fine and good Erin, until you have three kids. Which makes your fat cells multiply. Which causes you to compulsively order exercise equipment from QVC. Yeah. It's all fine and dandy until Chad starts going on overnight sales trips. With his secretary.
Wha? Oh. I’m sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah:
Thomas: 29, California – Paralegal
Thomas speaks highly of his mom, sister and Jesus in pre-show interviews. Which, individually, aren’t bad things. But Erin just might not measure up. Erin says Thomas is easy to talk to and a great conversationalist.
Chris: 27, California – Entrepreneur
Call me a skeptic. I'm reading ‘entrepreneur’ as ‘unemployed.’ But what do I know? Perhaps he’s making a killing on eBay, or selling motivational tapes. Or both. I’ll give Chris the benefit of the doubt here, because he loves Brooke Burns - and his mom. At the very least he caused Erin to gush “Wow.”
Greg: 34, Pennsylvania – Real Estate
Greg’s ideal mate would combine a great face, body, personality and business sense, all ensconced happily in a beachside investment property. Send photos of investment property.
Greg was the first to hug Erin, which she termed impressive.
Richard: 25, New York/San Francisco – Executive Recruiter
Last but not least, we meet Richard. My daughter, (Brooding Bumpkin) immediately terms him a ‘hottie.’ I’m wondering if he can get me a better job. His interviews indicate an attraction to business acumen and a perverse desire to make P. Diddy his personal assistant. He earns points for that. I think.
Thankfully, the introductions end just as Erin’s laugh begins to grate on my nerves. Erin is impressed with the menu, er, selection of men. After a brief social time she departs for the evening serenaded by refrains of, “Here she is … Miss America.. “ Erin laughs and scoffs at the same time.
Jordan interjects, reading his cues like a 99 cent greeting card:
five will be eliminated.
Have a good evening.
At breakfast the men are notified they will meet with Erin at noon for a barbecue.
After interactions with Erin over burned pork, the men make scintillating observations.
Chad F., ever the romantic, confesses that, “… you can’t put a price tag on love, and Erin is priceless.”
Wade draws Erin into stimulating conversation: “Conversation is what separates the men from the boys.”
Chris – looking like a shoo-in for the final four – is ‘macking it up’ with Erin over smores. Erin confesses that she finds Chris attractive, but in much the same way she also finds $2 million attractive.
When Chris says he will be shocked if he is eliminated tonight, I know he’s a goner.
With another flashback to FLOM, the guys line up on the stairs in their tuxes.
Erin greets the group with, “How y’all doing?” and tells the camera she’s not sure what she was expecting. “I am surprised.”
Erin. You actually said, “y’all.” I am surprised too.
By now I’m checking my watch. Is this almost over? Yep. Time for the eliminations.
Deric: Erin got to know you better.
Richard: Has such a nice personality. Connection not quite there. Gimmie the ring back.
Chad V.: Exudes genuineness. (Is that a word? And can you exude it?)
Thomas: Your smile is amazing. You have a pleasant way about you.
Dustin: You light up when you speak. Ultimately, the connection wasn’t great. There is someone better for you out there.
Vic: You’re a tough one to read. Erin thinks there is a lot more potential.
Wade: You light up a room.
Dan: Enchanted by the elephant.
Sean: Ultimately, we didn’t connect on a lot of levels.
Chad F.: You’re always smiling. You have a great sense of humor.
Greg: Great conversation. Erin wants to learn more about you and says this was an easy decision.
Paul: We had a nice exchange last night. Erin thinks the two of you have potential for friendship instead of romance
Eric: You are breathtaking. I want to save you the agony (of waiting).
Chris: We click in a lot of ways, but I think there is someone better for you.
Munch: You’re a funny guy.
Thankfully the premiere ends without commentary by Jordan. While Erin has martini toasts with the remaining ten, five burn checks in the main room. Chris leaves broken hearted - but thankfully not sobbing - in a Yellow Cab.
Next week – Tune in as boozy buffoons and destructive brawls in the bachelor’s mansion send three men home. For Love or Money 2 - Mondays on NBC.
And goodnight Woogie, wherever you are.
Are you a contestant on For Love or Money 2? Welcome to the FORT! We’d love to hear from you.
Questions or comments, Bumpkin@fansofrealitytv.com.